Can Eating Disorders Become ‘Contagious’ in Group Therapy and Specialized Inpatient Care?
Article first published online: 10 MAR 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.
European Eating Disorders Review
Volume 19, Issue 4, pages 289–295, July/August 2011
How to Cite
Vandereycken, W. (2011), Can Eating Disorders Become ‘Contagious’ in Group Therapy and Specialized Inpatient Care?. Eur. Eat. Disorders Rev., 19: 289–295. doi: 10.1002/erv.1087
- Issue published online: 13 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 10 MAR 2011
- eating disorders;
- group therapy;
- inpatient treatment;
- peer contagion;
- social learning;
Eating disorders belong to the broad category of self-harming behaviours which may be acquired in a social learning process of imitation, identification and competition. Hence, we should question the possible dangers or unwanted side-effects in treating patients together within a common therapeutic setting. But little is known about the frequency and extent of possibly negative influences of treatment in a group format, the so-called risk of ‘peer contagion’ in group therapy and/or inpatient treatment. We review in this paper the rather scarce literature on this subject in order to stimulate more critical thinking and systematic research. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.